Housing Challenge

Feb. 15, 2018, 9:59 a.m.

MAJORITY of first-time home buyers are willing to travel the distance in search of affordable housing options.

Bayshore Real Estate managing director Arif Khan said overall, the real estate sector felt that there was a shortage of housing and this challenge would persist unless they get more home and land package developers.

Mr Khan's comments were made in response to questions on the trend in first home buyers and how far they were willing to travel/commute to find affordable housing.

"Due to the demand outpacing supply, the urban areas in Nadi market are maintaining their high prices coupled with the attractive interest rates.

"In order to develop these outskirt areas, it would be great to have tax incentives in place for housing outside of the town or suburbs.

"For example, in Nadi, we feel that Sabeto, an upcoming suburb, has excellent affordability options for buyers yet a short distance from Nadi International Airport."

Mr Khan said the buyers were willing to travel but there would be a greater incentive if there were local amenities such as shopping and other services available.

"Therefore, the city planners need to encourage more suburb development in general development plans, tax incentives for homebuilders to provide subdivisions with home and land packages in these suburbs.

"This trend is slow to take off in Fiji but there is good profitability for developers."

In terms of the price people are prepared to pay for suitable housing, Mr Khan said there was a saying that the property was worth what the buyer was willing to pay.

"For high-end and luxury homes, we see that the market is generally cooling. Buyers seem to be negotiating a little more.

"For first-time buyers, there is a pent up demand for homes ranging from $300,000 to $400,000 in Nadi. The urgency for homeownership is high enough and there is even a bidding war going on in affordable areas such as Votualevu."

Mr Khan said therefore, in entry level homes, it was a sellers' market whereby the sellers should position themselves to take the high up - the highest and best offer.

He said the demand for housing was expected to increase in future given the economic conditions that were prevailing.

"The consumer confidence is high, there is liquidity in the market, buyers will continue their pursuit of homeownership, it is the Fijian dream."

This article was originally published in The Fiji Times on February 13, 2018.